3 Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! 2 The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
4 We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
The Glory of the New Covenant
7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!
12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Paul continues in this chapter with his last words in chapter 2 7 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.
It seems there had been many different guys coming along, claiming to be preaching the Gospel, profiting from it. It must have caused a lot of confusion and frustration in the Corinthian church, enough that it implies they were demanding letters of recommendation from everyone, including now Paul. I’m not sure what they were preaching exactly, but judging by the way Paul explained to them the incredible blessing of the new covenant, I’m guessing it had to do with following the old law.
18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Moses was the only man who was able to speak to God as though he was face to face (Exodus 33:11). Whenever he did this, his face would start to shine. He would come out of the tent of meeting with his face shining and tell the Israelites what God had spoken to him. Then, he would cover his face (Exodus 34:34-35). Paul says that Moses covered his face because his face would eventually lose it’s shine, or the glory of God would fade (2 Corinthians 3:13).
But, we are not like Moses, who would have periodic encounters with God and experience His glory. We are constantly being transformed by the glory of God now that we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Our lives should constantly be shiny according to Paul. Do those who you are in constant contact with notice a glow about you? This glow is obviously the glory of God because you are constantly encountering him throughout your day. Let the glory of God shine from every area of your life and help spring us into action.
Father, we thank you for your blessing of the new covenant. We pray today that your glory would truly shine on our faces and this would cause us to rise up and bring our faith into action. In Jesus name, amen.